I was thin once. I don’t actually remember it, but I’ve seen pictures. It was quite a while back, when I also had hair. But at some point, things went a bit wonky, and now, on the wrong side of 50, I find that I’ve become… plump. Chunky. Big-boned.  Insert your favorite euphemism here, because every person over a certain weight has them.

I’ve been thinner, and I’ve been heavier. And like anyone who has taken a ride on the weight-loss roller coaster, I know what has worked for me, and what hasn’t. What with currently being in a downward spiral of the best kind — in which the numbers on the scale are getting lower rather than higher — I thought this might be a good time to offer a little encouragement to some of my brethren. The following tips, when combined, work best for me. Will I ever again be fit as the proverbial fiddle? Who knows. But these helpful hints have reduced my waist size while increasing my self-esteem. And those are awesome things!

1

Over the years, my best friend has helped me change my lifestyle. We go to the track three days a week, where he runs and I… well, I do my best! Because he’s also there at dinner time, I think twice about what I’m eating and how much. Sure, you can pay someone to be your buddy in these ways, but they will never have as much of a vested interest in your success as will a friend.

2

So you had a double-order of French fries with lunch. Okay, that’s not ideal. But it doesn’t mean you should give up. It also doesn’t mean you say, “Well, this week is shot, I’ll give eating healthier a try on Monday.” In fact, it doesn’t even mean the day is shot. It means you ate more than you should at that particular meal. Don’t use it as an excuse, use it as motivation to do better the rest of the day!

3

The hardest part about any diet and exercise routine is… well, dieting and exercising. Yet we are creatures of habit. Believe it or not, I’ve gotten to the point where I look forward to my daily walks with my best friend, and not only because of the puppies we occasionally get to stop and play with on our sojourn. The same is true of adjusting your diet. Instead of going from devouring a Wendy’s Baconator, two small fries, and a Coke to ordering a salad, strike a middle ground. You have to actually like what you’re eating if there’s even a chance of changing your long-term eating patterns. Start by cutting out one order of fries. Then maybe get a cheeseburger without the bacon. Every little bit helps, and it adds up over time.

4

One of my household’s favorite sayings is, “Do what you can with what you’ve got while you’ve got it.” If I was about 30 years younger, I’d interpret that as, “Hire a photographer and do a nude-but-tasteful photo shoot so that one day, you can say, ‘Dang, I was hot!’” These days, the translation is slightly different: “You may not be able to jog ten laps around the track, but you can do one. And a few days from now, you’ll be able to do two.” That’s how I started, and I now do about a mile-and-a-half every few days. I’m not running marathons, but I did completely a couple of 5ks!

5

Longtime readers of this site may recall that back in 2013 I wrote an ultimately short-lived series of posts known as The Insanity Diaries. They chronicled my attempts to master — or at least not die trying — a fitness program known as Insanity. The fourth entry in that series ended with the words, “Something had gone terribly wrong.” And that cliffhanger was never resolved. Well, I’m here to tell you now that what had gone terribly wrong was the kind of injury from which one never fully recovers. The problem was two-fold: While I’d started out careful to not do more than I could handle, the endorphin rush accompanying each achievement, no matter how minor, was intoxicating. And so, I pushed… and then I broke. Because while the creator/instructor, Shawn T., repeatedly advises you to watch your form so as to avoid injury, that is almost impossible to do in a vacuum. How do you watch your own form, and do you even know what you’re looking for? I couldn’t, I didn’t… and I paid the price. To this day, my knees have not fully recovered from the injury I sustained while doing the program. And while that has occasionally slowed me down, it hasn’t stopped me. If anything, rather than put my exercise program in the hands of others it inspired me to… well, this is where we cycle right back to No. 1 on this list!

In the end, the most important thing to remember is that while people will say, “You have to do it for you,” and that is true, you also can’t do it alone. As with making any major life change, your chances at success will greatly increase if you have a support system. Maybe it’s a single person who joins you in the journey toward better health. Maybe it’s a group of people, whether in person or in a chat room, who offer words of encouragement and support. But this will definitely prove to be a case of, “the more, the merrier!”

 

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